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News Briefs: Court won't stop wolf hunt

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Editor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communications Company newspapers in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

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Minnesota

Court won't stop wolf hunt

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Wednesday said it will not stop the state's upcoming wolf hunting and trapping seasons, denying a request for preliminary injunction filed by wolf supporters.

The injunction had been sought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves, which claimed that the state Department of Natural Resources failed to follow administrative rules when developing details for the seasons, especially failing to take public comments on the seasons.

The ruling by a three judge panel means the first ever Minnesota wolf hunting season will start Nov. 3, with a trapping season starting Nov. 24. Up to 400 wolves can be killed under the state's upcoming sport seasons.

Arson caused wildfire

KARLSTAD, Minn. -- Fire investigators say the major wildfire in Kittson and Marshall counties was arson, officials said today. A $6,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the identification of the arsonist.

The wildfire started Sept. 20 in Marshall County. By the next day, Oct. 1, it had grown to 500 acres. The fire spread from Marshall to Kittson county, burning 4,440 acres and leading to the evacuation of part of the city of Karlstad, destroying 11 homes and damaging dozens of other structures.

Minnesota / Wisconsin

St. Croix bridge project speeded up

STILLWATER, Minn. -- The Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of transportation announced they are accelerating the St. Croix Bridge project by starting construction on the river piers for the bridge foundation in 2013.

The $50 million contract will open for bids in late-winter 2013. Construction is anticipated to begin on the bridge foundations in late-spring 2013. Previously, construction was planned to begin in spring 2014.

The St. Croix Crossing project replaces the 80-year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge with a safer, more reliable four-lane bridge that will connect expressways on both sides of the St. Croix River in Stillwater and Oak Park Heights, Minn. and St. Joseph, Wis.

The project adds extensive trail systems, including converting the Stillwater Lift Bridge to a bicycle and pedestrian crossing, and highway construction on each side of the river.

The four-lane St. Croix Crossing Bridge is estimated to cost between $280 million and $310 million. The total cost for the entire St. Croix Crossing project is estimated to cost between $580 million and $676 million.

Wisconsin

Program director convicted on drug charge

HUDSON, Wis. -- A former program director at Aurora Community Services in Hudson has been convicted of felony charges after using one of the clients of the program to obtain prescription painkillers.

Dana Elizabeth Veness, 37, North Hudson, was sentenced to 44 days in jail, 200 hours of community service, and probation for three years, fined $536 and ordered to pay $1,300 Wednesday, Oct. 3, on convictions of one count each of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and theft.

The court dismissed 19 other related charges in the case. Similar charges from three other cases were read into the record and dismissed.

The criminal complaint said Veness picked up prescription Hydrocodone for a client of Aurora Services that was not part of his regular medication. An investigation showed Veness obtained doses of the narcotic painkiller in August 2011 and previous months but there was no record of its distribution. The client was no longer being prescribed the drug.

North Dakota

Montplaisir honored for dedication, leadership

BISMARCK - The North Dakota Association of Counties recognized Cass County Auditor Michael Montplaisir with the County Official Award during their annual conference held here Monday.

The award honors those who have shown excellence through dedication,

leadership and involvement for the good of all counties. Montplaisir is a 21-year veteran of county government and was nominated by the Cass County Board of Commissioners.

NDSU police seek tips on statue vandalism

FARGO - North Dakota State University police are seeking the public's help in identifying several individuals believed to be involved vandalizing a bison statue Saturday.

At approximately 11:40 p.m., police say several individuals were observed stopped in front of the NDSU library. The individuals approached the bison statue near the library and began to climb and jump on the statue. At least one individual appeared to intentionally vandalize the bison statue.

If you think you know either of the individuals pictured or have any other information on this case, please contact the University Police at (701) 231-8998 or by using the University Police tip line at (701) 526-6006 for either voice or text messages.

Xcel employee suffers shock

GRAND FORKS -- An Xcel Energy employee was injured Wednesday in Grand Forks after receiving a severe electrical shock while on the job.

The victim's name was not released, police said.

Police and emergency personnel responded to a report of an electrical accident in the 2900 block of South Columbia Road around 9:30 a.m.

Xcel crew members on scene told authorities the victim had been working in or near a transformer box and received the shock.

The victim was taken by ambulance to Altru Hospital and airlifted to an undisclosed hospital in St. Paul.

There were no other injuries and the area was declared safe by authorities.

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